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Data: NASCAR; Table: Axios Visuals

After a 10-week hiatus, NASCAR returns to the racetrack Sunday at South Carolina's Darlington Raceway.

Why it matters: Other sports leagues will be watching closely and hoping that the weekend goes smoothly, as that would give them confidence — and a road map to follow — as they, too, attempt to return in the coming months.

The backdrop: Given the lack of physical contact between competitors, it's no surprise that auto racing is one of the first sports back in action, but the path that NASCAR traveled to get here was "anything but precise, a constantly redrawn road map that ... remains written in pencil," writes ESPN's Ryan McGee.

"Can Goodyear provide tires? Can we get fuel? It's incredibly complicated. We're on version 65, maybe version 70, of the plan. We do have pivot plans. Frankly, there's been days of the week where things have changed by the hour."
— John Bobo, NASCAR VP of racing operations, via ESPN

The new rules:

  • No fans allowed, and there will be fewer than 900 credentialed personnel (media members, track workers, etc). A normal race weekend can have as many as 3,700.
  • Team rosters will be limited to 16 people, including the driver. Big teams normally have three times that many people.
  • Upon entering the track, crew members will be subject to health screenings (think: airport security check, but with thermometers). Anyone showing symptoms will be sent to the on-site medical center for "heavy screening."
  • Once inside the track, crew members will be subject to random light screenings, and thermal cameras will monitor their temperatures.
  • Cloth face masks are required, and anyone who doesn't wear one will be removed from the facility and face heavy fines.
  • Everyone must keep a contact tracing log. If someone shows symptoms, that person and those he or she was in contact with must self-isolate.

Looking ahead: Darlington will host a second race on Wednesday, and then NASCAR will head to Charlotte Motor Speedway for two more races on May 24 and May 27. Then comes the following slate, which was announced last night:

  • May 31: Bristol
  • June 7: Atlanta
  • June 10: Martinsville
  • June 14: Homestead-Miami
  • June 21: Talladega

Go deeper: Coronavirus projected to cancel half of 2020's live sporting events

Go deeper

Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated 18 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: First known U.S. case of Omicron variant identified in California — America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron — CDC prepares tougher testing rules for international travelers.
  2. Politics: Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come — Meta removes accounts linked to COVID disinformation effort by China.
  3. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine.
  4. World: Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people — Omicron variant detected in more countriesWHO advises people 60 or older to postpone travel due to Omicron
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Aug 22, 2020 - World

South Korea reenters lockdown after spike in coronavirus infections

A coronavirus test being done in Seoul. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea is shuttering nightclubs and churches and cancelling professional sports and large social gatherings after an uptick in COVID-19 infections, AP reports.

The state of play: Health Minister Park Neung-hoo enacted the new rules on Saturday after 332 new cases were confirmed. To date, South Korea has seen 17,002 confirmed coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins University. Most of the outbreak is centralized in Seoul, but it is spreading to major cities throughout the country. South Korea has consistently been one of the strictest countries on COVID-19 precautions.

  • Seoul was placed under stricter lockdown rules earlier this week.